Here are 3 remarkable true stories about the very same bed space in our emergency department. Resuscitation Bed 1.
The first story I wrote after an incident with a colleague at work. The second two were written responses to that story……
I was working with Nurse K in resuscitation today.
K has only been working in ‘The Sus’ for a few shifts now, and as we chatted she mentioned that Resuscitation Bed 1 had some special significance for her.
“Oh?” I said, “How come?”
She told me that when she was 10 years old her mother came into our emergency department.
She was very sick and K thought her mum might die.
“She was here. In this bed. I can still remember it clearly to this day”.
“You used to have blue curtains. I remember nurse F…..and Doctor D. They were there.”
As she watched the doctors and nurses working on her mum, she was overwhelmed.
She knew, right then, that this is what she wanted to be. A nurse.
“I wanted to be able to care for people like you all were caring for my mum.”
That was the exact moment.
Her mum eventually recovered. And K went on to fulfill her goal of becoming a nurse.
Then, she began working in our emergency department.
For some time the idea of even walking through our resuscitation room was far too scary for her….. let alone any thought of working in there.
But after a while, after becoming more experienced, more confident….. she decided to undertake the training required to work The Sus.
“And the other day, when I worked my first shift in here, and I looked after my first patient… in this bed…..well it was a pretty emotional experience for me.”
“I really felt as though I had begun to pay something back”.
“Oh”, I said.
The hairs on my neck were standing on end.
Nurse K and I stood beside an empty resusciation bed 1.
We were both quiet for a long moment.
She thought she was paying something back.
But, in fact, what she is doing, is giving everything forward. Tenfold.
The doctor at bed 1.
Just a few days after publishing the above story I received this…..
Just wanted to say thankyou so much for your post about nurse K and
her story from R1.
It was a particularly powerful post to me, because R1 is also a part
of a very important story in my life.
One and a half years ago, my brother was taken into R1. He was looked
after by Dr C and nurse S, among others. My mother was there
too and was very impressed by both Dr C and nurse S.
A few months later, my dearest mother suddenly collapsed in front of
me and then arrested in the ambulance. I participated in the CPR
before transportation to TCH, which was very upsetting. My father and
I arrived at the hospital after following the ambulance with all its
lights flashing through the streets in the middle of the night,
shocked by what had occurred and wondering if we were traveling in to
be told mum was no more.
Sure enough, the doctor came into the relative’s room – it was Dr C
who delivered the news.
I walked through the door into the resus room to see mum lying in R1.
S was waiting there too. I honestly cannot say how grateful I am
to him for simply standing beside me and answering my questions while
I saw mum for the first time after her death and attempted resus.
I was a medical student at the time, and felt incredibly guilty about
the whole event and the ‘what ifs’ surrounding it. At the end of last
year, I was assigned a rotation in the TCH ED. I had been unable to go
near the resus area all year and was basically terrified of having to
go in there. One day, a patient came in via Southcare [helicopter retrieval service] and a nurse encouraged myself and another student to take part in the resus and
wear all the associated paraphernalia. That was the first time I had
been back into the resus room since that horrible night. The patient
was placed in R1.
I am thankful for this experience because I was able to take part in
helping someone in the very same place that is a part of such a
painful memory for me – even though it was just using the hand pump to
push in some IV fluids while standing at the head of the bed…
It is amazing to think of how many life changing events, both good and
bad, have taken place in each bed at the hospital. I am so pleased to
read about nurse K’s life changing story of R1.
A week later and yet another Doctor shares his story of Resuscitation bed 1:
I walk through Resus on my way in to every single shift. Hands against the swinging door. Sneaking the briefest of distorted, scarlet-tinged glimpses through the tinted porthole, of what lies in wait this time, before sweeping in to the space at the foot of Resus 1 and strolling to the other end of “The Sus”. Often it’s occupied, but calm. A chest pain that turned out to be less exciting than it might have been, being worked up. Someone recovering from artificial sleep after a procedure. Nurses checking, restocking, checking again. Sometimes it’s busy… hectic… insane… seemingly half the entire ED team working in a controlled and directed frenzy to claw back the last, best chance of a normal life for someone lying helplessly broken, or ill… almost invisible in the maelstrom of moving bodies, lines, tubes, drains.
I pause, just long enough to glance at the patient, the monitor, the staff… just barely long enough to glean an inkling of who’s there… what’s wrong with them… should I stop to offer some help, or move on past Resus 3 and into the department proper… Often, bad things are afoot. People are suffering, injured, sick, dying. It can be exciting. It can be frightening. It can be sad.
But of all the times I walk through Resus, it’s the mornings when it’s empty that make me pause a little longer. I think it’s the contrast. Knowing… remembering… what happened in that same neatly made bed, once stained with blood, sweat, pain, fear, urgency… that same pristine bedspace, once strewn with the detritus of a hundred hastily open packets, blood-stained gauze, a discarded bougie… the silence, in place of the rapid back and forth of a busy resus team, the yelping monitor alarms, the groans, tears, the desperate gasping breaths… and the shocked disbelief when the time came to be silent once more.
Because Resus is never silent when there are patients there. And on those mornings when there’s no-one there, each empty bed reminds me of the patients who laid there… silent… before.
All of them.